69 passengers were rescued from a stricken Robben Island Ferry this afternoon. Picture: NSRI
69 passengers were rescued from a stricken Robben Island Ferry this afternoon. Picture: NSRI
69 passengers were rescued from a stricken Robben Island Ferry this afternoon. Picture: NSRI
69 passengers were rescued from a stricken Robben Island Ferry this afternoon. Picture: NSRI
Cape Town – Emergency services have safely evacuated 69 people from the Robben Island ferry after it took on water and started sinking in Cape Town harbour this afternoon.

Cape Town has been  experiencing  gale force winds and high seas since mid-morning.

The f ire  department was reportedly called to the scene at 14:42. 


Passengers were evacuated with the help of nearby boats which  responded  to the Mayday  call  and were taken to a nearby staging area for medical treatment.

Quentin Botha, NSRI Table Bay station commander, said duty crew were activated at 2.18pm by the National Ports Authority following a Mayday distress call from the Robben Island passenger ferry Thandi which was reporting to be taking water.

The NSRI Table Bay sea rescue craft Spirit of Day and Spirit of Vodacom was launched to join the Robben Island passenger ferry Madiba 1 that were already at the scene. The NSRI launched four other boats. The police Sea Borderline launched a craft, as did the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Rescue helicopters were put on standby and a Joint Operations Control was set up .

Rescuers found the Thandi listing to one side. Some of the passengers were in life rafts and the remaining crew and passengers were on the deck. All passengers and crew owere transferred by NSRI from the ferry and life rafts onto the Madiba 1 and onto NSRI's Spirit of Vodacom and brought to port where they were assessed by paramedics.

A few passengers were treated for mild hypothermia but did not need to go to hospital.

One woman crew member from the Madiba 1 was taken to hospital after suffering from an anxiety attack. As a precaution, a woman passenger from the stricken Thandi was transported to hospital suffering from back pain. Both are in a stable condition 

Robben Island Museum spokesperson Chris Bischoff could not confirm whether the ferry in question belonged to the museum.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority have been alerted and an investigation will take place. Efforts are being made to recover the ferry.


* This is a developing story.

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